[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8617][/img]Title: Joyful Noise
Starring: Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Keke Palmer, Jeremy Jordan. Kris Kristofferson, Courtney B. Vance
Directed by: Todd Graff
Written by: Todd Graff
Studio: Alcon Entertainment
Runtime: 118 min
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 1, 2012
HTS Overall Score: 72.5
Economic times haven’t been favourable toward the Southern town of Pacashau, Georgia. With businesses
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8618[/img]closing and residents suffering financially, Joyful Noise implies that the uplifting verses and harmonious sounds of Gospel music can provide a little relief. Belting out those inspirational lyrics are the members of the Pacashau Sacred Divinity Church Choir, notably G.G. Sparrow (Parton) and Vi Rose Hill (Latifah). During their opening performance at the National Joyful Noise Competition, choirmaster and Sparrow’s husband Bernard Sparrow (Kristofferson) clutches his left arm, mostly likely indicating a heart attack and ultimately dies. With the choir’s leader gone to the heavens the church’s rigid pastor, Pastor Dale (Courtney B. Vance) declares Rose Hill the new choirmaster. Sparrow objects the decision, stating she’s been the one preparing the song list and probably thinking in the back of her mind that being the biggest supporter of the church, such that she actually keeps the church open, entitles her to the position. But the council has spoken and rehearsals for the National Joyful Noise Competition continue with Rise Hill sitting in the front pew directing the group.
To stir things up and digress from the main storyline, (a finale at the National Joyful Competition – not a spoiler guys, you know it’s just heading toward that) G.G.’s grandson Randy Garrity (Jordan), toted as somewhat of a rebel having a rap sheet and all, strolls into town initiating one of a handful of sub-plots; courting Rose Hill’s daughter Olivia Hill (Palmer). Things are smooth for a while, Garrity even tutors Rose Hill’s Asperger’s afflicted son Walter Hill (Dexter Darden) in piano and then joins the choir to spend more time with her, and of course he has a set of pipes capable of easily impressing all the judges on American Idol, but the road to teenage love is always rocky.
As rehearsals continue Garrity notices that the group wants to stray from the traditional Gospel format and suggests adding popular hits to the mix and eye-catching choreography. Despite the overwhelming favourable response to the idea, Rose Hill sinks the notion and the group loses to The Church of Detroit in the regionals, whose performance is more like Pop-Gospel, lavish and complicated, but you know that can’t be the end it.
In relation to the storyline, the acting in Joyful Noise is fine; a few times it falls flat, with some
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8621[/img]pairs of characters having little chemistry together, in particular Rose Hill and Sparrow. Their constant feuding felt lackluster and the argument they have in the restaurant while Rose Hill is working felt contrived and dispirited; watching Sparrow lazily throw biscuits at Rose Hill only to have them effortlessly deflected didn’t feel authentic, but very amateurish.
PG-13 for some language including a sexual reference.
Dark images meld into large black blotches often, ultimately and unfortunately losing their outline and
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8620[/img]consequently their detail. In a church full of light each choir member’s robe should be easily distinguishable and retain its luster and shine, yet as the singers sway side to side and brush up against each other, that distinction is lost. Shadows flattening images is a recurring element in Joyful Noise, to the point of unwantedly being the first thing you notice as scenes change. When shadows aren’t encroaching on nearly everything at one point or another, colors pop and are vibrant and there’s lots of detail in clothing, everyday objects, buildings and faces, especially when the characters are going through emotional times and there’s lots of facial contorting. Facial colors, wrinkles, creases, etc. look natural and sans post production editing.
Overall the picture quality is very smooth and void of any artifacting or graininess, not a surprise actually because this type of family-style movie would only suffer from any intentional artificial layering.
The soundtrack is simple in that there isn’t too much ambient noise in the day-to-day family scenes. Solo
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8619[/img]renditions sound crisp and every word is clearly audible. Routine conversations sometimes suffer from fluctuating levels and I found myself occasionally lowering and raising the volume. The spirited lively performances sounded robust and with the volume turned up the subwoofer kicks in, not too sure why because most songs have nearly zero bass, but it added to the home concert feeling. At a higher volume level the music is enveloping and a pleasure to listen to. The vocals always take center stage in Joyful Noise and as such the music volume is usually laid back, but cranking up the volume during the performances is recommended because then you get a good feeling for both audio portions.
1. Spotlight on a Song: Dolly Parton’s From Here to the Moon – A little insight into Dolly Parton and her contribution toward writing many of the songs in Joyful Noise, especially From Here to the Moon, which was performed as a duet with her and Kris Kristofferson.
2. Inspiration of Joyful Noise – Writer, director Todd Graff discusses how he came about writing the movie primarily for his mother.
3. Make Some Noise – How the movie took Gospel songs and incorporated new Pop songs and popular favourites.
4. Leading Ladies – Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah merely compliment one another and provide a few generic sound bites of how great the experience was and the complete blast they had working together.
5. He’s Everything Live – Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton performing He’s Everything live at the National Gospel Competition.
6. Extended Songs – Extended song scenes: Not Enough Love, In Love, I’m Yours, Ride the Mighty High.
7. Deleted Scene: Stop Calling Me Grandma – A rightly deleted scene with Dolly Parton and Jeremy Jordan.
Joyful Noise (why this is the movie’s name is puzzling, it sounds like an oxymoron) tries to tackle a host of familiar topics; interracial dating, premarital relations, teen angst, mother and daughter issues, and it does an adequate job of doing so, but don’t expect any real tension. Nothing was left to question except the reoccurring implication that winning will help the ailing town. Sparrow at one point emphasizes “It is the right thing to do, our town needs to win”. Does the championship coincide with a huge sum of money that can be distributed amongst the townsfolk, or bring about a lucrative endorsement? There wasn’t enough background about the people and the businesses to warrant so much mention on the matter.
The highlight of Joyful Noise is the musical/dance numbers. Using current and popular hits and setting them to choreography a la Glee and High School Musical might attract a younger audience; saying that I think Joyful Noise qualifies as a worthy family movie.
Recommendation: Rent it
Watch the Official Trailer
Watch the Official Trailer